As the site director, my main goal was to replace soda with the healthier option of water, so I usually bring my gallon of water and my coaches cut down on bringing drinks such as Starbucks and other unhealthier drinks to set a better example for the kids. I randomly went through a phase where I would put frozen fruit into my water and the first time the kids saw it they all laughed or said it was nasty. After a few days my nutrition coach did the same with her water bottle. Then the next week we had kids bringing their own versions of the fruit water. One day we must've had 15-20 kids all with water bottles filled with fruit. That led to my coach doing a nutrition lesson plan based on that, she made a few different examples (cucumber, strawberry, pineapple, raspberries, and a mixed fruit one) so the whole program could try it out when they had their nutrition lesson plan. We may not do it as much anymore, but the program all learned a new twist to make drinking water more fun!
Justin Arceo, California Elementary Site Director
This month at Cedarlane I have seen a great improvement in one of my coaches named Valerie. She started off bringing soda to work on hot days. I interviewed Val and asked her "Why do you always drink soda?" She responded "It has flavor and I feel like it keeps me hydrated." As the month went on Valerie said she has noticed during physical activity rotation she was starting to feel sluggish very quickly. She then decided to make the change to bring cold water instead of soda to work. The rest of the team was shocked since we knew she loved soda. She also encouraged us to do it as well which we slowly started to do. Now we have noticed we all bring our own water bottles and encourages the kids to stay hydrated with water. Seeing the coaches stand by what they are telling them I really feel like us making this change helped the students see that drinking water really is a better option then choosing soda or any sugary drink. It was a great feeling to see how one person simple life choice sparked a change in our whole after school program.
Dannya Fregoso, Cedarlane Academy Interim Site Director
DEL VALLE ELEMENTARY
Our staff here at Del Valle helping in implementing healthy food choices a student Selena* had asked, “If she could bring her own healthy snacks just like the coaches do”. Every day during snack she always brings her turkey sandwich with lettuce and tomato. She says she chooses turkey, “because it has less calories and is a healthier choice.” She is sure to include her fruit and/or vegetables along with a dairy product. Due to Selena doing this other students began to take notice and bring their own healthy snacks. Seeing this throughout the year has not only helped the students in making better eating choices. It’s also helped our staff here at Del Valle because they too make healthy food choices knowing students are looking up to them.
Josephine Buendia, Del Valle Elementary Site Director
At Nelson, we were all about staying healthy. Even though we had many things to celebrate as a program, we made sure that our TCHAS title lived up to its expectation. We had many potlucks celebrating the holidays, and of course we needed parent support. Our parents were informed that we were a TCHAS site and needed to have healthy foods donated to our celebrations. They made sure we did that by donated fruit salads and fruit plates, and sometimes they would even donate fruit seasoning so the students had fun with it! Our PTA club (booster club) was also very supportive and only sold food during events and on Fridays as opposed to selling every day. They also knew which students were in ASES because I would personally walk them over and monitored what the students would buy. It was hard to exclude items because the school was trying to fundraise money so we took out the option of buying soda. As a program, we knew we needed to be healthy and my coaches contributed to that by bringing in only healthy snacks and never walking in with unhealthy foods.
Lizbeth Casas, Nelson Elementary Site Director
Being at Sunset elementary school we have tackled several of issues throughout the school year. One of which we are very proud of is working with our staff as well as our P.T.A.. to cut down on the not so healthy food they sell to fundraise as well as to promote our staff to eat healthy snacks during work or drink water bottles to set the example for our students. The process was tough because most non healthy snacks are the one snacks that are easier to sell for fundraising but ultimately we cut it down from selling it every day to now selling it once a month. Working with our staff was not difficult, they understood we are trying to promote a healthier environment for our students and it starts with our staff. Our students look up to us, but it was still a challenge trying to break bad habits and ultimately removing all the junk food. Another thing that really helped with our healthy movement was preparing for our marathon the 26.2 miles they had to run through the months. We found out that students were wanting to join along with the marathon even if it meant they were going to actually participate in the event, they still wanted to join the marathon and run with us. We went from having 20 students running to sometimes up to 50 students running and joining the marathon movement. We are definitely proud of helping our students continue a healthier lifestyle for their future.
Ricardo Ayon, Sunset Elementary Site Director
At the beginning of the school year, many students didn’t seem enthusiastic about having to participate in physical activities. They always preferred to sit down or watch a movie inside. We began giving them options such as soccer, basketball, and dodgeball as well as different ways to play those sports. Sometimes they would play a game called “around the world” at the basketball courts as well as “Pac-Man”. We started to notice a change in the kid’s attitudes as the weeks went by.
Nathan* a 5th grader said, “I like to play soccer because that’s when most of my friends get together to play. Dodgeball too because we get to play against other groups and dodgeball is all about team work like soccer.”
Isabel* a 3rd grader said, “my favorite sport is basketball because it is fun like Pac-Man and around the world at the basketball court. When I play basketball with coach Brian, I have fun because he thinks he is Kobe Bryant and I get to beat him sometimes.”
Brittney* a 4th grader said, “my favorite sport is capture the flag because coach Brian plays with us and sometimes we do boys vs girls and sometimes us girls win. Sometimes coach Angel plays with us too and it is fun when the coaches play with us. They also help the game be fair.”
It is now the end of the year and now the majority of the students choose to play a sport outside when it is fun Friday instead of an indoor activity. We have noticed that it helps the students release energy. Using healthy behaviors and choices keeps the students entertained and out of trouble.
Elizabeth Prieto, Suva Elementary Site Director
We've seen a great improvement from our students in physical activity as well as making healthier choices. Students began to get more involved in our activities/sports even after the season was over. We, as staff, noticed what the students were into so we implemented on that. For example, the students enjoyed the marathon club. So we expanded that rotation at the site and coach Leo and myself ran with them as well. They found that cool, as much as we did. We tried getting students to eat healthier by talking to them about healthier choices during rotations using lesson plans. Towards the end of the year we noticed the students were bringing water bottles, especially for running club. That's one thing we are proud of.
Jimmy Rodriguez, Temple Academy Site Director
Throughout the school year we’ve implemented healthy behaviors and choices but it was always a challenge implementing it to a particular student, Hahn* is a third grade male student who is Chinese. He started the afterschool program knowing only a few words in English. He hardly did his homework, did not want to play sports, and he never ate the healthy snacks that we provided for the students because he thought they were disgusting without even trying them.
When it was time to do moderate to vigorous physical activity Hahn never wanted to participate. It was like if the only word he knew how to say was “no.” It was hard convincing him because he could barely understand us. He just wanted to sit down or stay indoors to play with an iPad. We couldn’t force him to do exercise so at first we would send him to an indoor coach so he can be supervised inside since the physical activity coach would be up and down with the students who were exercising. With the training we received from HOST, we then started trying out new methods. We started to have Hahn be the leader when stretching and have him time the students when they would run. After a while, the coaches were able to get Hahn to exercise if the coaches did it with him. So the coaches would hold Hahn’s hand when running a lap so he could be comfortable and see that it wasn’t so bad. When we would rotate, we would have all students do exercise’s such as jumping jacks, squats, etc. The staff would also participate which made Hahn then want to try and do the exercises but he would stop less than half way through.
During snack Hahn would usually just grab his snack then throw it away right after. When we would ask why he didn’t want to try it he would always respond with “Ew.” We tried out a new method which was to have the staff try out the snack with him to at least take a sip of his milk. He then started to eat just about half his snack then would throw it away right after.
Every month we do nutrition lesson plans and all students participate in a taste test using the harvest of the month. I was able to go out of my way and get many fruits and vegetables donated to us. Using those items, we would cut up the fruit and give it the students; their parents were also able to take a bag of free fruits and vegetables so that they can implement healthy choices in their homes as well. At first Hahn would be afraid to try it, but since we got him use to the feeling of trying out new things, he actually enjoyed it. We then started using those fruits and vegetables to make healthy smoothies and milk shakes and Hahn was always the one to then start volunteering to try it out first.
It was acknowledged by our school principal Mr. Gallegos that Hahn’s academics and behavior has improved tremendously. He is now speaking more English and also gets his homework done, he usually finishes it on the first day that he receives it. He now looks forward to going outside and doing physical activity and even volunteers to participate in dancing. During rotations, he now does all the exercises without stopping; He eats his entire healthy snack and volunteers to demonstrate new exercises to the other students and is very helpful during nutrition rotation. He helps wash the fruits and vegetables and helps get everything set up. We are all extremely proud of how a healthy after school program has impacted Hahn’s life. Due to his progress, our school principal now refers other non-English speaking students to our program so that we can help them by showing them a healthy life style and help to get them out of their shell from being shy.
Marlene Limon, Wilcox Elementary Site Director
*names have been changed